Cleveland pressures state lawmakers to not pursue state-wide lead inspection plan

Posted at 6:30 AM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 06:38:56-04

Cleveland City Council is scrambling to prevent the state from taking over control of local lead inspections. Ohio lawmakers have taken steps to strip cities and local health departments from carrying out inspections of homes potentially contaminated with lead.

State Representative Derek Merrin (R – Monclava Township) introduced an amendment to the republican state budget proposal that would give the Ohio Department of Health control of lead inspections. Merrin said he authored the amendment so that the State Department of Health would not be impeded in its efforts to remove families from lead-contaminated homes.

The measure was passed by the house in a budget amendment last month and it’s waiting for approval in the Ohio Senate.

RELATED: Which Cleveland suburbs have the most lead water pipes?

Cleveland City Council members though have joined with councils from other cities in protest claiming localities have a better idea of what issues they face, their local housing markets, which neighborhoods need the most help, and how to deal with displaced families.

In the first move signaling that the state would be taking over control of lead inspections, the Ohio Department of Health released a list of homes that have not complied with state orders to correct known lead hazards. 

There are around 500 properties state-wide on the list, but only 28 are in Cleveland. City councilors say there are more than 28 homes in Cleveland though that should have been included and that the list is a clear indication that the state should not have control over local lead issues.

“There’s been very quick opposition to this state amendment for obvious reasons and I think frankly both republicans and democrats in the statehouse and senate are going to understand very clearly that there are issues in which state reps may want to impinge on our home rule, but this is not one of them,” said Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.

The Ohio Association of Realtors supports Merrin’s amendment, claiming there are too many local lead laws on the books for landlords to comply with.

The senate is debating the budget right now. A final budget needs to be approved by the end of June.